As the number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 continues to decline across the Orlando Health network, and officials begin easing elective surgery restrictions, the organization is encouraging patients in need of care for non-coronavirus-related conditions to seek treatment.
“There is this ongoing and building need to address non-coronavirus medical issues that have not being taken care of,” Orlando Health Vice President and System Chief Quality Officer Dr. George Ralls said. “We are aware of more than 150 patients who have delayed a neurosurgery procedure because of the pandemic. Numerous other patients — both adults and pediatrics — have delayed procedures that range from cardiology to orthopedics. Further delay could exacerbate these already troublesome conditions resulting in the need for more advanced procedures than originally prescribed.”
Orlando Health is prioritizing surgery scheduling to make sure the more serious cases can be addressed quickly. The organization will extend operating hours as needed to address what is expected to be a surge of cases.
“We are planning to do whatever we need to meet the needs of these patients,” Ralls said. “It could mean that our ORs are busy seven days a week for 12 to 14 hours a day. We are currently working through those logistics.”
Orlando Health has implemented additional safety measures designed to reinforce to patients and their families the organization is a safe place to receive care. All patients scheduled to undergo medical procedures and women who are in labor at Orlando Health hospitals are being tested for COVID-19. Masking and social/physical distancing — as appropriate and possible — will continue for patients, visitors and all care teams. Everyone who enters an Orlando Health hospital also will be screened for symptoms of COVID-19, including have their temperature checked using non-contact thermometers. Some facilities may implement additional safety measures based on special needs of their patient population.
“These steps are part of the ‘new’ normal,” Orlando Health Medical Group President Dr. Sunil Desai said. “We don’t know how long the virus will be with us, but these measures are designed to help ensure the safety of patients, visitors and care teams.”
Across the Orlando Health network, the number of COVID-19 cases peaked at 54 on April 8. Today, that number is 10.
"Based on our experience with the virus, and modeling that reinforces what we’re seeing, we’re confident that Orlando Health is one of the safest environments for receiving and giving care," Desai said.